The Ghosts of the Great Dane Pub & Brewery


MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) – It’s that time of year when there’s the most ghost and scary stories talked about as Halloween approaches, but how would you feel working in a place? known to be haunted all year round?

During the day, at the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company, it’s a popular spot in the heart of downtown Madison where patrons come for a bite to eat or a cold beer.

But when employees finish their work for the day, that’s when strange things usually happen throughout the building, which was once the Fess Hotel for over 130 years.

“I was sitting here, adding up my credit card receipts and finishing my shift and heard someone ask me what time is it?” Said Molly Konkey, an employee. of the Great Dane. “No one was there.”

The sound of someone’s voice was coming from a storage room in the Great Dane’s basement that employees used as their desks. It is a room that some employees refused to enter after office hours.

The downstairs area was originally a stable for more than 60 horses, according to Heather Bailey, preservation planner for the City of Madison.

“In 1880 the hotel advertised 34 rooms and there was also an adjoining delivery room because when you travel you have to have a place to put your horse,” Bailey said.

Konkey has worked at the Great Dane for over three years, and she said it only took a few weeks for her to finally ask her coworkers how many ghosts are in the building.

She has many of her own stories and many more from her colleagues over the years. Some include seeing the same man walking up the stairs and then quickly disappearing.

“We just cleaned up this area and I’m talking to another coworker facing the stairwell as we watch a man come up the stairs, I’m going to say, sir – you know this area is closed to the public and then poof, he’s gone, ”Konkey said.

Another scary story shared by employees includes a time when two bartenders were counting their money in the pool room and it looked like someone was knocking over pool cues one by one, but no one was in that area.

There are also random internal phone calls, but when an employee answers, no one is on the other end of the phone, Konkey said. There is also a phone ringing late at night when employees are finishing their shifts when workers are not using the phones.

“It has given rise to a lot of similar experiences and sometimes when there are too many coincidences there might be something else underlying it,” said Matt Pace, director of operations for Great Dane Pub and Brewing. Co.

So you might be wondering why this historic building is considered haunted, well, there are some theories.

Before the creation of the Great Dane Brewpub in 1994, it was the Fess Hotel. It was built in the 1850s and was owned by English immigrant George Fess.

Recently, a piece of history was revealed with a mural advertising the hotel, which came to light after a parking lot was destroyed over the summer.

“We didn’t know there would be this big historical mural, this big signage, so it was super exciting,” Bailey said.

The hotel was a place that welcomed all kinds of travelers, but Bailey said one thing it didn’t offer was alcohol. A frequent guest at the hotel was Caroline Amelia Nation, often referred to as Carrie Nation or Hatchet Granny, who was a member of the temperance movement and tore bars with her hatchet.

“She literally went to bars and chops up the bar to try and shut it down, she stayed at Fess in 1901 because it was one of the few places that didn’t have a bar,” Bailey said.

Research also shows that the Fess family were also big supporters of the temperance movement, which opposed alcohol consumption before Prohibition.

One theory Bailey shares is that after the hotel closed in 1994 and later became a bar / restaurant, she believes that could be a reason behind this bizarre activity.

The building has been around for over a century and is filled with memories. The next time you visit the Great Dane, you might want to ask your waiter if he has any stories to share.

“There has been a lot of history and stories of trajectories of people who have crossed this space and those tens of thousands of people who have done so may have left something or some of their energy,” he said. said Pace.

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